The Rev. Traci Blackmon

The last time the Rev. Traci Blackmon came to Memphis, when the city celebrated the ’68 sanitation workers, the cause that brought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his economic justice agenda here, she made her purpose clear: “I didn’t come to celebrate. I came to agitate.”

Well, she’s back.

Blackmon is the featured speaker at the third and last Moral Mondays event Monday, March 12 at Temple Israel, 1376 E. Massey Rd. Previous events have featured the Rev. William Barber II, who spoke at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in October; the Rev. James Forbes Jr., senior
minister emeritus of The Riverside Church, who spoke at Hope Presbyterian Church in January; and Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chairwoman of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

Blackmon received international acclaim for her leadership following the 2014 police shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri. She heads up the social justice ministry for the United Church of Christ and is senior pastor of Christ The King UCC in Florissant, Missouri. She focuses on the church as a sacred launching pad of community engagement and change.

Living the Legacy Today panelists: the Rev. Traci Blackmon, the Rev. Gerald Durley, Rabbi Katie Bauman and the Rev. Eboni Marshall Turman.

Her sermon will be followed by a Living the Legacy Today panel sponsored by Yale Divinity School: The talk seeks to answer how people of faith and good conscience can make the MLK50 anniversary more than “just a commemoration” and will explore how people from different backgrounds can unite around a moral center to address poverty and race, according to Moral Monday’s organizers. Moderating will be Prof. Jonathan Judaken, Spence L. Wilson Chair in Humanities at Rhodes College. The panel includes Blackmon; the Rev. Gerald Durely, pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta; Rabbi Katie Bauman of Temple Israel; and the Rev. Eboni Marshall Turman, theology and African American religion professor at Yale University Divinity School.

“As we wrap up our Moral Mondays in Memphis series, we want to make it clear that our work is not over; in fact, it is just beginning,” Dr. Alvin O’Neal Jackson, chairman of the National MLK50 Clergy Executive Committee, said in a statement.

“As we wrap up our Moral Mondays in Memphis series, we want to make it clear that our work is not over; in fact, it is just beginning.” 

Dr. Alvin O’Neal Jackson, chairman of the National MLK50 Clergy Executive Committee

“The moral revival is just getting started,” according to Jackson. “In the coming months, we will encourage people of all faiths to do the hard work of picking up where Dr. King left off and eradicating the plagues of racism and economic injustice from our city, nation, and world.”

Moral Mondays in Memphis was inspired by Dr. King’s work on behalf of poor people and the work of the Poor People’s Campaign. Organized by Repairers of the Breach, the organization describes its mission as building a moral framework challenging “the position that the pre-eminent moral issues are prayer in public schools, abortion and property rights. Instead, we declare that the moral public concerns of our faith traditions are how our society treats the poor, women, LGBTQ people, children, workers, immigrants, communities of color and the sick.”

This event is free and open to the public, and advance registration is available online. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a fellowship hour. Rev. Blackmon will speak around 6:30 p.m. and the panel begins at 7:10 p.m. The event will also be live-streamed starting at 6:30 p.m.

This report is brought to you by MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit reporting project on economic justice in Memphis. Support independent journalism by making a tax-deductible donation today.